Beyond the Limits: Confronting Global Collapse, Envisioning a Sustainable Future. Donella H. Meadows, Jorgen Randers, Dennis L. Meadows. Chelsea Green Publishing Company.

Beyond the Limits: Confronting Global Collapse, Envisioning a Sustainable Future Book Cover Beyond the Limits: Confronting Global Collapse, Envisioning a Sustainable Future
Donella H. Meadows, Jorgen Randers, Dennis L. Meadows
Chelsea Green Publishing Company
August 1993

Beyond the Limits: Confronting Global Collapse, Envisioning a Sustainable Future is the path-breaking sequel to The Limits to Growth, the international best-seller which sold 9 million copies in 29 languages when it was published 20 years ago. At that time the authors concluded that if the present trends of growth continued unchanged, the limits to physical growth on the planet would be reached in the next 100 years. Now, in Beyond the Limits, the authors show that the world has already overshot some of its limits, and if present trends remain unchanged, we face the virtually certain prospect of a global economic collapse in the next century.

That’s collapse is far from inevitable, however. Now three of the original authors of The Limits to Growth, Donella Meadows, Dennis Meadows, and Jorgen Randers have written Beyond the Limits to help us confront the possibility of global collapse in order to envision the possibility of a sustainable future. The use World3, their system dynamics computer model, as a unique tool to see far into the next century. And by varying the basic global policy assumptions that go into the model, they are able to show a range of outcomes, from collapse to sustainability.

Beyond the Limits comes to the following key conclusions:

  • Human use of essential resources and generation of pollutants has surpassed sustainable rates
  • Unless there are significant reductions in material and energy flows, the world faces an uncontrolled decline in per capita food output, energy use, and industrial production
  • In order to avoid this decline, growth and material consumption and population must be eased down at the same time as there is a rapid and drastic increase in the efficiency of materials and energy use
  • A sustainable society is technically and economically feasible
  • The transition to a sustainable society must be made by carefully balancing our long and short-term goals and emphasizing equity and quality of life. It will require honesty, compassion, and maturity.

Donella H. Meadows is a systems analyst, journalist, and college professor. She holds a Ph.D. in biophysics from Harvard University. She is adjunct Professor at Dartmouth College in the Environmental Studies Program. She has authored or co-authored nine books and writes a nationally syndicated newspaper column, “The Global Citizen.” She lives in Plainfield, NH.

Dennis L. Meadows is Director of the Institute for Policy and Social Science Research and Professor of Systems Management at the University of New Hampshire. He holds a Ph.D. in management from M.I.T. Honorary doctorates from two European universities acknowledge his contributions to international environmental policy analysis and computer-aided education. He lives in Durham, NH.

Jorgen Randers is a policy analyst and President Emeritus of the Norwegian School of Management. He is Chairman of the Norwegian Bank for Industry, Norwegian Institute for Market Research, and Ake Larson, AS. He holds a Norwegian graduate degree in solid state physics and a Ph.D. in management from M.I.T. He lives in Oslo, Norway.